Coronavirus and addiction: what does it mean for recovering addicts during lockdown?

Written by: Dr Lars Davidsson
Published:
Edited by: Laura Burgess

If you’re on the road to recovery from an addiction, whether from alcohol or drugs, suddenly being forced to stay at home under the coronavirus lockdown restrictions will definitely make things a lot harder. Under normal circumstances, an outpatient visits their doctor and goes to regular support groups but, in some cases, living in self-isolation with a lack of routine and guidance poses a major challenge. 

Thankfully, one of our psychiatrists Dr Lars Davidsson is here with his expert advice for those who might be at home alone during the pandemic, struggling with addiction.

How might a recovering addict struggle at home during lockdown?

There are lots of things that are different during a lockdown, such as not being able to go to work or even go outside at all. You might be sitting at home with access to all kinds of things like alcohol and maybe even drugs. 

Or it could be the other way round where you can’t get ahold of drugs. Currently, the street prices of heroin and cocaine are very high as they can’t get into the country. Cannabis isn’t the same as we tend to grow it ourselves at home in Britain but class A drugs such as coke and heroin have stopped being available or they are bad quality.

If you’re in lockdown it’s going to be more difficult to get help but support and treatment can be offered over the phone.

 

Is someone more likely to relapse?

It’s much less controlled when we are all working from home. The situation with coronavirus is very stressful for everyone and therefore the risk of relapse is obviously there and more likely than otherwise.
 

How does rehabilitation compare to being at home under lockdown?

In rehabilitation you are doing something every day by taking part in groups, having therapy or doing physical exercise. Under lockdown, we have a restriction of liberty and there is nothing to do because there is much less structure. Lockdown and rehab are not particularly similar. If you are an alcoholic, for example, you can buy your drinks using home delivery.
 

How would a psychiatrist adapt the treatment plan for an outpatient during COVID-19?

We are doing things via the phone, Skype, e-Consultation, FaceTime and we are doing these more frequently than usual with outpatients because I think that people are in need of more support during these circumstances. 

I would do these kinds of sessions more often, like once or twice a week. People are struggling and we are trying to adapt to a different situation but we are making sure that everything takes place with treatment.
 

What advice can you give to an outpatient recovering from addiction during the crisis?

It’s difficult but try to stay away from it. People in recovery have struggled so much to be in recovery that it would be very sad if they were to relapse during this situation. A lot of telephone consultations are available, even for people who are suffering from mental health conditions.

People are dealing with the pandemic situation in different ways. Some people become much more capable than they were before, making sure they have enough food and medicine and organising people to come and help them.

My overall advice is that you should try and use the support that is available, even if it is not the same as you are used to because it is still something that is there. Coronavirus is unprecedented and we don’t have much knowledge on what to do during a pandemic but it’s good that we are all trying to find ways in which to make things work.


If you are struggling at home during the coronavirus crisis, you can book an appointment with Dr Davidsson via his Top Doctor’s profile here and his clinic will be in touch as to how they can help.

By Dr Lars Davidsson
Psychiatry

Dr Lars Davidsson is a highly trained consultant psychiatrist at the Anglo European Clinic with special interests including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, adult ADHD, and anxiety. He is also an expert in medico-legal work.

Since graduating from the University of Lund in Sweden and completing his specialist training he has gained broad experience, undertaking humanitarian work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania before arriving in the UK.

Dr Davidsson’s approach is founded on evidence-based medicine, taking into account the patient's individual needs and preferences. Fundamental to his approach is the aim to return his patients to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Well respected in his field, he has conducted research, been published extensively and lectured both nationally and internationally.

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